LA WATCHDOG - According to the July Official Statement issued in conjunction with the City raising almost $200 million through the issuance of Solid Waste Resources Revenue Bonds, the Bureau of Sanitation is considering a significant increase in our Solid Waste Resource Fee. It is estimated to be at least 40%.
The current Sold Waste Resource Fee is $36.32 for a single-family residence and $24.33 for apartments in multifamily dwellings of four or less units. This fee, which is on our bimonthly DWP bill, produces revenue of $285 million from 735,000 households. These funds are then used for the daily collection of 5,800 tons of refuse, organics, and recyclables, using a fleet of 720 heavy-duty vehicles.
These new funds will be used primarily to purchase 385 new and replacement environmentally friendly heavy-duty vehicles and related equipment to modernize its aging fleet that was neglected and underfunded for years by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the politically appointed Board of Public Works.
The last fee increase was in 2009 when Mayor Villaraigosa more than tripled this fee over a three-year period, claiming the money was needed to fund the Police Department. As it turned out, Controller Laura Chick exposed Villaraigosa’s duplicity as a significant portion of the additional revenue never made its way to the LAPD’s budget.
There are several factors behind the anticipated fee increase.
In the past year, the City’s General Fund provided $61 million to cover pension costs, employee benefits (healthcare) and other indirect costs.
There are also increased labor costs that will flow from the new labor agreements that are currently being negotiated with the City’s civilian workers. The estimated cost, including benefits, will reach $30 to $40 million a year by the third year.
There are also substantial costs associated with the recent implementation of the state mandated goal to divert 75% of methane causing organic waste from landfills. These are in addition to the costs of achieving the goal of diverting 90% of the traditional waste from landfills by 2025. Both goals appear to be “aspirational.”
Overall, it appears that Sanitation will be asking for an increase in the range of $115 million to $130 million, representing increases of 40% to 45%, resulting in a monthly rate of more than $50.
In terms that are easier to understand, our annual trash bill will increase from $435 a year ($36.22 per month) to around $610 a year ($51 a month) assuming a 40% increase, a $175 hit to our wallets.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: [email protected].)